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This detailed drawing by Robert Van Pelt shows that widely-spaced, large redwood trees maintain deep crowns full of leaves while also providing room on the forest floor for smaller trees and understory vegetation to thrive. This forest structure results in record-breaking forest productivity and carbon storage.
This detailed drawing by Robert Van Pelt shows that widely-spaced, large redwood trees maintain deep crowns full of leaves while also providing room on the forest floor for smaller trees and understory vegetation to thrive. This forest structure results in record-breaking forest productivity and carbon storage.
New research by Redwoods and Climate Change Initiative scientists Robert Van Pelt and colleagues reveals no forest on Earth has more biomass – wood, bark, and leaves – than the ancient coast redwood forests of Redwood National and State Parks (RNSP). At the northern end of RNSP, the redwood forest on the slopes of Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park boasts the highest aboveground carbon storage ever recorded (>2,500 metric tons of carbon per hectare).

Ample rainfall for millennia has helped redwood trees and the other plants growing in the forest reach remarkable age and stature, resulting in more than twice as much carbon in this forest than is found in other forests around the world. Not only does the coast redwood forest store a remarkable amount of carbon, but the carbon stays bound in the persistent heartwood of living redwoods and fallen logs which resist decay for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.

Dr. Van Pelt and his colleagues describe how this incredible carbon retention is made possible by extremely large redwoods that boost forest productivity. Episodic fire and windstorms knock over redwood trees over time and the remaining ancient trees continually grow and reach impressive heights. These largest redwoods produce the most wood and at the same time leave space around them for other species to thrive in the forest.

Learn more about our Redwoods and Climate Change Initiative and watch Dr. Van Pelt’s presentation from our RCCI Symposium.

Bay Area Youth Harp Ensemble Save the Redwoods Tour



About Emily Burns

Emily joined Save the Redwoods League as the Director of Science in 2010 after studying redwood forest ecology for seven years.


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Many of the most magnificent redwood parks and reserves you and generations of Americans have enjoyed, including Redwood National Park pictured above, have been partially funded by the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Photo by Max Forster Celebrating the NPS Centennial in the Redwoods

Over the weekend, the League celebrated the centennial anniversary of the National Park Service at our Orick Mill Site property near Redwood National and State Parks. It was a momentous event, and I was honored to speak to the attendees about the significance of the moment. For those who weren’t able to be there, I’ll take the opportunity to share my remarks, and some photos, here.


Student Perspectives: Why Big Places Need Small People

I think it would be safe to assume that most everyone can enjoy a peaceful walk in the woods. Whether you are 8, 18 or 80, no one can deny the staggering beauty of giant trunks rising into a canopy of green. Mount Tamalpais State Park is one of these unique places, home to breathtaking redwood groves. It towers above the bay just north of San Francisco in Marin County. Unfortunately, places like Mount Tam aren’t always accessible to people and families of lower income and limited resources. So what can we do to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to experience this place?


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